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Katharine £• Conan 

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Damrell & Moore, Printers, 16 Devonshire Street. 


When human law comes, or appears to come, into direct 
I and inevitable conflict with the Divine law, which is to 
control the conduct of good citizens \ This, I think, is 
!| emphatically the question of our day and country, under- 
I lying most of the discussions, which for years have agi- 
' tated the public mind ; and is the main issue between the 
I opponents and the abettors, or passive instruments, of 
slavery. It is indeed denied that there is any such ques- 
tion now pending. All, it is said, confess the supremacy 
of the Divine law, even while they contend for implicit 
and active obedience to those human laws, which are 
opposed to natural justice, and the revealed will of God. 
The doctrine, and the argument by which it is sustained, 
so far as I can understand them, may be thus stated : — 
" Civil government is an appointment of heaven, for the 
purpose of securing those social benefits for mankind, 
which could not otherwise be secured ; and such govern- 
ment cannot be maintained, without making implicit 
obedience to all its edicts and commands a universal duty. 
If disobedience were ever permitted, it would introduce 
such a principle as would tend to demolish ail govern- 
ment, and lead to universal anarchy. Hence, it is the will 
of God that the law of the land should be obeyed, even 
when it contradicts his will." If this be not a fair state- 
ment, I am wholly unable to understand what is meant 


by those who are ready to cry out, ; * Treason ! " against 
such as contend that there is a law above the Constitution; 
and if it is a fair representation of their sentiments, and 
the argument on which thev are founded, it would seem 
that an explicit statement should be in itself a sufficient 
refutation Still, it seems to be a lamentable fact, that, 
for want of due attention, multitudes of good men, and 
some whom we are accustomed to call great, are bewil- 
dered and perverted by the sophism involved in the argu- 
ment. I would therefore invite my reader to look atten- 
tively at the subject, first in the perspective of reason, 
and then in the light of Holy Scripture. 

First, then, let us examine the argument for passive 
obedience to unrightous and impious laws in the light 
of reason. It is said, - We must obey the laws of the 
land, without mquiring whether they be consistent or 
inconsistent with the law of Heaven, or we shall estab- 
lish a principle of disobedience, which will tend to the 
destruction of all human government.*' There is in this 
an assumption of something, which is neither self-evident, 
nor capable of proof: something absolutely false ; viz.: 
That obedience to all human laws, not excepting those 
contradictory to the Divine law, or the subversion of all 
human government, is a necessary alternative. This is the 
sophism suggested above. In regard to this point, I 
would put the question to the candid, and even to the 
prejudiced reader ; Is it not conceivable that a man 
should refuse obedience to a civil law. which seems to 
require of him disloyalty to Heaven, and still submit 
so quietly to the severest penalties of that law. as to leave 
the wheels of Government to roll on, with no other 
obstructions or frictions, than what are purely moral, and 
consequently peaceful \ Still farther. I would ask. "Would 
such examples, connected, as of course they would be, 
with prompt and cheerful obedience to all human laws, 


Which appear to be in harmony with the beneficent will 
of God, tend either directly or indirectly to subvert all 
human government, whether bad or good 1 Would they 
not, on the contrary, tend to strengthen and perpetuate 
those which are most entitled to support, and exert 
a reforming influence on those which are capable of 
reformation, without a resort to those violent and bloody 
commotions, which often aggravate, instead of correcting 
inveterate and deep-rooted abuses % 

There is another point in the argument w T e are consid- 
ering, which requires a momentary glance from the eye of 
reason. It is assumed that, for certain purposes and to 
a certain extent, the Supreme Lawgiver sanctions by his 
own authority those human laws, which are directly 
opposed to his authority. It seems, if I may be allowed 
without impiety to state the doctrine in explicit terms, 
that the infinite God finds such difficulty in regulating 
the social interests of mankind, that he thinks it wise or 
prudent to call in the aid of man to relieve him of his 
embarrassments, although that aid may be at war with 
the fundamental principles of his righteous government. 
Alas ! for the infirmities, the perversity of the human 
mind ! Is it possible for a man of any intelligence, who 
is not blinded by prejudice, to look for a moment on this 
assumption, without seeing that it is hard, very hard to 
be reconciled either with sound reason, or with that rever- 
ence, which is certainly clue from finite, feeble creatures, 
to their infinite Creator \ 

The error, which appears so repugnant to reason, and 
which is alike horrid in its aspect and its legitimate 
effects, may, I think, be traced in many minds to a one- 
sided view, and consequently to a misconstruction of 
Scripture. I would, therefore, in the second place, invite 
the reader to a candid examination of those Scriptures, 
which have been supposed to favor a doctrine so much at 


variance with the rights of private judgment and the 
duty of man as man ; and I hope to show clearly that 
the argument in favor of this doctrine has no real support 
from Scripture; that the Scriptures furnish no warrant 
whatever for human government to interpose itself be- 
tween the Supreme Ruler of the world and his individual 
subjects on earth ; and, on the other hand, that it does 
not allow, and much less require any individual to do 
wrong, or refrain from doing what would otherwise be 
right, because the law of the land commands or forbids. 
I am perfectly aware that passages may be quoted, which, 
separately viewed, seem to enjoin absolute and unreserved 
submission to the laws of the land, be those laws what 
they may. Some of these passages I shall bring to view 
in the connections in which they stand, and by which 
they must be interpreted. 

My first citation is from 1 Peter, ii, 13, 14. "Submit 
yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, 
whether it be to the king as supreme, or unto governors, 
as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of 
evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well." One 
other passage will suffice, inasmuch as it is the strong- 
hold of our opponents, their very citadel. It is found in 
Romans, xiii, 1 — 5. " Let every soul be subject unto the 
higher powers. For there is no power but of God : the 
powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever, there- 
fore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God ; 
and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. 
Wilt thou, then, not be afraid of the power \ Do that 
which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same ; 
for he is the minister of Gocl to thee for good. But if 
thou do that which is evil, be afraid, for he beareth not 
the sword in vain ; for he is the minister of God, a 
revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 


Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, 
but also for conscience' sake.'' 

From several parts of these citations we learn the char- 
acter of those rulers, who are warranted in calling in the 
Divine authority in support of their own. According to 
Peter, they are such as are " sent for the punishment of 
evil doers, and the praise of those that do well." In the 
descriptions of Paul, they are such as " are not a terror to 
good works, but to the evil ; ministers of God for good, 
who bear not the sword in vain." 

Still it may be asked, Are we not required in the 
quotation from Paul to obey rulers, or be subject to them, 
whatever their character or laws ? With the exception of 
some extreme cases, I frankly answer, Yes, There is a 
qualified obedience enjoined by Christian principle to the 
laws of the land, however unreasonable or cruel those 
laws may be. We are to obey them as far as we can, 
without renouncing our allegiance to the King of kings 
and Lord of lords ; and where we cannot do what is 
required, or refrain from doing what is forbidden, we are 
to maintain our allegiance to the Great Supreme, and 
quietly suffer any penalties which man may inflict for 
the violation of his law. In all such cases I conceive 
the true doctrine is non-obedience and non-resistance 
combined. To prove this, it is sufficient, I think, to bring 
into view the examples of those holy men, who have 
delivered to us the oracles of God. How did they carry 
out their doctrine in their own practice ! 

What the apostle Peter meant by the injunction, 
" Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the 
Lord's sake," we may learn from what he said to the 
Jewish Sanhedrim, which, to a certain extent, was the 
legitimate government of Jerusalem and Judea, Acts, iv, 
18, 19. "And they called them, and commanded them 
not to speak at all, nor teach in the name of Jesus. But 


Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it 
be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more 
than unto God, judge ye:" &c. Acts, v, 29 ; "Then Peter 
and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to 
obey God rather than men." On this principle Peter 
and his brother apostles persisted in the violation of the 
express commands of their constituted rulers ; and in all 
this they were expressly supported by the authority of 
Heaven, as appears from Acts, v, 19, 20. " The angel 
of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought 
them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to 
the people all the words of this life." 

The conduct of Paul in regard to the point we are 
considering is not so plain a commentary on his own pre- 
cepts, as that of Peter. It is to be remembered, however, 
that idolatry was blended with the fundamental laws of the 
whole Roman empire, which was then spoken of as compris- 
ing the whole civilized world. Of course it was impossible 
to preach the doctrines of Christianity, without coming into 
immediate conflict with civil rulers, so far as they insisted 
on the preservation of their fundamental laws. This Paul 
did through the whole course of his apostleship, in Rome 
itself, as well as in the provinces. 

As the highest authority for the doctrine I am endeav- 
oring to maintain, I make my last appeal to Him, " who 
spake as never man spake," and always did the will of 
Him that sent him. He did indeed enjoin obedience to 
" the powers that be," Matt, xxiii, 2, 3. " The scribes 
and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. All, therefore, 
whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do." 
Still, our Pattern and Guide did not himself refrain 
from miracles of mercy on the Sabbath-day, though the 
priests and elders insisted on such an interpretation of 
the Divine law, as would make these acts of mercy in the 
highest degree penal. In support of this position, it is 


unnecessary to make any citations, as the fact is notorious 
to every one that is acquainted with the Gospel history. 
It is farther observable that our Saviour justified his disci- 
ples in the non-observance of that traditionary law, which 
required every man in all cases to wash his hands before 
he eat. Matt, xv, 2, 11. 

Having, as I trust, fully sustained and defended my first 
position taken above, viz. : That human rulers are not 
allowed to avail themselves of Divine authority in carry- 
ing into effect any laws which are evidently opposed to 
that authority, as manifested in nature or revelation, I 
now proceed to the second proposition, under which I 
shall endeavor to show, from the clearest expressions of 
our Saviour himself, that no private individual can safely 
allow any human ruler to interpose himself between him 
and his God ; or, in other words, that he cannot do what 
is forbidden by the Supreme Ruler, or neglect to do what 
is required by him, without becoming personally responsi- 
ble for the act or omission, whatever human law may 
come in opposition to his supreme allegiance. No bribe, 
no menace from " the powers that be," will furnish an 
adequate excuse at the bar of the final Judge. Our 
Saviour's admonition is awfully solemn, and should make 
every one tremble at the thought of disobeying his su- 
preme command in hope of gain, or fear of any earthly 
loss. " Fear not them who kill the body, but are not 
able to kill the soul ; but rather fear Him who is able to 
destroy both soul and body in hell. Yea, I say unto you, 
fear Him. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he 
that loseth his life for my sake, shall find it." Matt, x, 28, 
39. If any suppose that these admonitions had reference 
to the unauthorized persecutions to which the disciples of 
Christ were exposed, I would observe that the whole of 
the 10th chapter appears to be closely connected, and I 
would call their particular attention to the 18th verse; 


" Ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my 
sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles ; " 
which plainly implies that those who would maintain their 
allegiance to Christ would be brought into conflict with 
national authorities, to which, on the peril of their salva- 
tion, they were to pay no other obedience than that of 
suffering any penalty which might be inflicted. 

An argument to the same effect may, I think, be drawn 
from Matt., vi, 24. " No man can serve two masters ; for 
either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he 
will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot 
serve God and mammon." In view of these solemn decla- 
rations, I would ask those who deny that there is any law 
above the Constitution, How do you avoid the conclusion 
that while you " love or hold to man," you either " hate or 
despise God 1 ?" 

Again it appears from Acts, ix, 4, 5, that the Lord 
Jesus, the constituted Governor of the world, holds all 
men personally responsible to him, whatever human laws 
may oppose: " Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me ? And 
he said, Who art thou, Lord ! And the Lord said, I am 
Jesus, whom thou persecutest." Saul had been commis- 
sioned by the legitimate authorities of Judea, to inflict the 
penalties of their commands on the disciples of Jesus ; 
and still He regarded Saul as not only opposing, but 
persecuting him. The same view was entertained by Paul 
himself, who, as appears from several of his Epistles, ever 
after considered it as a sin against God. 

In the 25th chapter of Matthew, near the close, our 
Saviour has taught us that our final acquittal or condem- 
nation will depend on the fulfilment or non-fulfilment 
of that great law of love between man and man, that 
universal neighborhood among all the nations, and tribes, 
and individuals of mankind, which he came to establish 
on earth ; for which he lived, labored, and died. " I was 


a stranger, and ye took me in." " I was a stranger, and 
ye took me not in." " Inasmuch as ye did it, or did it 
not, to one of the least of these my brethren," — and in his 
view there is no difference between the bond and the free, 
— " ye did it, or did it not, unto me." 

To bring the argument to bear with its full force on the 
particular point which I have had in view in all that 
I have said, I now ask, "What real Christian can pay 
any other regard to the recent law for the restoration of 
fugitive slaves, than that of quietly submitting to its 
penalties I If we have the slightest faith in Christ as the 
present Governor and final Judge of the world, we cannot 
without infinite presumption shut our doors against him, 
when he comes pleading for shelter, as he may do in the 
person of a fugitive slave. For myself, I will not boast of 
an invincible resolution. The example of Peter should 
teach us not to presume on our own strength. But, if 
sustained by Almighty grace, I will perform toward the 
fugitive slave all the acts of kindness that I should do if 
there were no prohibition against it ; and I will quietly 
endure the consequences, though enormous fines or exac- 
tions should deprive me of my last cent, and though I be 
thrown into prison for six months, or six years, or all the 
residue of life ; and I will not put the Government of my 
country to the expense of a single lock and key for my 
safe keeping. Though the doors be open day and night, 
I will not come out, till the magistrates come themselves 
and bring me out. I do not say that all this submissive- 
ness to human authority is clearly required by any Divine 
principle. I am not now deciding a question of casuistry 
for others, nor even for myself ; but so important in my 
view is the maintenance of civil order, that I am willing, 
so far as I alone am involved in the consequences, to 
make all the concessions expressed above. 

Still it was the direction of our Saviour to his disciples, 


" When they persecute you in one city, flee ye to an- 
other ; " and none but a fanatic will court persecution, or 
expose himself to penal sufferings or privations, any 
farther than the unchangeable laws of piety and univer- 
sal love may seem to require. It becomes, therefore, a 
most interesting question, how the tremendous alternative, 
into which myriads of sober and conscientious men are 
brought by the Fugitive Slave law, may best be removed. 
Doubtless it would contribute much to this object, if 
a majority of our National Legislators, or of their con- 
stituents, could be reasonably convinced that the Consti- 
tution, rightly and consistently interpreted, neither re- 
quires nor permits any action of Congress on the subject 
of recovering fugitive slaves. This, though it may seem a 
chimerical and hopeless undertaking, I shall attempt, 
leaving the issue with Him who, and who alone, is able 
to give a favorable result to any good endeavor. I know 
I am entering on very delicate ground, and, that I may 
hope for a candid hearing, I must first dispose of two or 
three objections, which will doubtless be thrown in my way. 

First, it will be regarded as arrogant for a person, who 
has no pretensions to extraordinary talents, or any legal 
science, to offer an opinion at variance with those of the 
profoundest lawyers and statesmen, and especially to 
question the decisions of that supreme tribunal, whose 
special duty it is to decide on all matters of this kind. 
In reply to this objection, I would say that I should be 
among the last to withhold from that august bench a 
single iota of the respect which the good order of the 
community requires, while I would leave to legal and 
political science the settlement of all intricate questions 
relating to the subject. But still I would ask, Is it 
unreasonable to suppose that there are some points of 
paramount importance in the Constitution, of which 
ordinary minds are as competent judges, as the most 



gigantic and profound % In natural history there may be 
questions, which require the greatest learning to settle 
correctly ; but the simplest peasant in the land is as com- 
petent to say that a wolf is not a sheep, though they be 
in contiguous pens, or in the same pen, as the most 
thorough anatomist, or the most erudite zoologist. 

The second objection that will probably be offered is, 
that these sentiments are radical ; and this with many a 
conservative will be a sufficient reason why they should 
receive no attention. But is it not frequently recom- 
mended that in political discussions and transactions we 
often recur to first principles, in order to prevent or 
correct abuses'? This is all I wish for, provided that 
what we call first principles be really such. Many 
maxims, that have been called by that name in almost 
every science and profession, have, in the progress of 
light and investigation, been proved to be not only not first 
principles, but no principles at all ; perhaps utterly false ; 
and the history of the past should teach us not to regard 
anything as a first principle, which is not self-evident. 

Another objection is likely to be urged against some of 
the arguments I have to offer ; viz. : That they reflect 
on the wisdom or the virtue of our fathers, who framed 
or adopted the Constitution. Such a reflection I would 
be one of the last to throw on the memory of those great 
and good men, did not truth and the best interests of our 
country and the world seem to require it. Many of them 
I have always regarded as pre-eminent for wisdom and 
disinterested virtue, faithful in the discharge of what they 
believed to be their duty to posterity, and consequently 
worthy of the love and veneration of their descendants. 
But the history of the world demonstrates that great and 
good men are not always exempt from intellectual and 
moral errors ; and perhaps our fathers, to whom we are 
so much indebted for their generous labors and sacrifices, 


may have been misled by political maxims, which the 
experience of succeeding ages may prove to be not only 
unsound, but fallacious ; and I think we may do them 
higher honor by imitating their independent spirit, than 
we should do by blindly following their footsteps, when, 
through the infirmities of human nature, they wandered 
from the right course. 

With these preliminaries, I am prepared to enter on the 
discussion proposed above ; and my first position is the one 
which is taken by some of our first lawyers: that the 
article of the Constitution on which the Fugitive Slave 
law is grounded, gives no such power to Congress as that 
which is claimed, either expressly or tacitly, and of course 
that no warrant for Congress to legislate on this subject 
can be inferred from that provision of the Constitution, 
which authorizes them to pass any law which may be 
necessary, in order to carry into effect the powers which 
are given to them ; while it is expressly said that those 
powers, which are not vested in Congress, are reserved to 
the several States. A plausible answer may, perhaps, be 
given to this argument ; but it does appear to me that it 
must involve some fallacy, though it may be deeply hidden. 
Let the Constitution be read a hundred times over, and I 
think it will be difficult to find anything like a clear 
warrant for Congress to act on the subject. If any suppose 
that the oath taken by members of Congress, implies either 
obligation or power in them to provide for the recovery of 
those who have fled from slavery, I would request them to 
consider the consequences of such a claim or admission. 
That oath must be limited to the iwculiar powers and 
duties assigned to those by whom it is taken. There are 
different departments of government, on which different 
duties are imposed ; and one cannot in all instances com- 
pel another to discharge its obligations to the full intention 
of the Constitution. Many duties, for instance, are re- 


quired of the President, which may either be neglected, 
or inadequately discharged, without giving Congress a 
right to interfere, either by impeachment, or otherwise ; 
and so it must be in regard to the duties of States. I 
know that a different decision has once been given by a 
majority of our Supreme Court ; but, although a decision 
of that august bench is to be treated with great respect, 
the doctrine of infallibility, in Church or State, is no part 
of our creed. We need not question the competency or 
integrity of our Supreme Judges. " To err is human." 
Constituted as that Court is, to suppose it impossible that 
from self-interest, or some unbalanced influence of educa- 
tion or association, the majority of them may have taken 
different views of this peculiar subject from what they 
otherwise would have done, is to suppose them something 
more than men ; something more than great and good 
men are generally found to be. 

My second position against the power of Congress to 
legislate on the subject of restoring fugitive slaves, is 
founded on the following prohibition of the Constitution : 
u Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment 
of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Why 
this prohibition] On what principle was it founded? 
Doubtless on this : — that human government cannot 
rightfully interpose its authority between the individual 
soul and that Infinite Being, to whom every soul is 
responsible for every word and deed. And, if it be an 
intolerable grievance to be required to attend, or not to 
attend on a set of mere forms, which may or may not have 
a moral effect on the man, is it less grievous to be required 
to disobey the express commands of Him, who has an 
exclusive right to command 1 It appears to me that this 
provision of the Constitution, and the evident reason on 
which it is founded, would alone be decisive against the 
competency of Congress to pass such a law as that we are 


considering. It was on this paramount reason that the 
colonies of New England were founded. It was this 
which gave birth to all our institutions, which have the 
least title to be considered free ; the grand purpose for 
which our fathers braved the dangers of an unknown sea, 
and all the hardships of a wilderness, that they might be 
free to serve their God according to the dictates of their 
own minds. Can it be supposed that our fathers in New 
England, who ratified the Constitution, intended to aban- 
don that most precious of all our birthrights, liberty of 
conscience % I think not. 

My third and principal argument against the power of 
Congress to enforce by law the restoration of fugitive 
slaves, is drawn from the utter repugnance of such a 
power to the declared intention or design of the Constitu- 
tion, which in the Preamble is thus stated : — " To form a 
more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic 
tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the 
general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to 
ourselves and our posterity." 

Such were the purposes and intentions of those who 
framed and ratified the Constitution ; and it seems to me 
very questionable, whether the article we are considering, 
executed as proposed in the recent law, would eventually 
conduce to any one of these several objects ; while, on the 
other hand, it seems to be at variance with most of them, 
if not absolutely subversive of them. 

It is one of the declared purposes of the Constitution, 
as may be seen above, "to establish justice;" and as the 
term is unlimited, I think we must in all fairness suppose 
that such an authority or influence was to be exerted by 
the Constitution, as would be conducive to impartial and 
universal justice. Now, if I had the necessary books and 
documents at hand, I suppose I might prove by ample 
authorities, so far as human authority can prove anything 


of this kind, that the imposition of involuntary slavery 
on those who have not, by some misdemeanor, forfeited 
their natural rights, is incompatible with the law of 
nature, as well as the common law of civilized nations. 
My argument, however, will be more brief and direct. 

If those who signed our Declaration of Independence 
were correct in holding that every man has, by the im- 
mediate gift of God, a "self-evident" right to be free, it 
seems an inevitable consequence that the principle of the 
recent Fugitive Slave law cannot be reconciled with the 
establishment of justice ; and this conclusion has been so 
deeply felt by some of our great men at the South, that 
they have resorted to the conclusion that what was said in 
the Declaration about the universality of equal rights, was 
nothing more than a " rhetorical flourish." The occasion 
was too grave, however, to admit this supposition, con- 
nected as it was with .a direct appeal to the Omnipotent 
and Infinitely Just, for the sincerity of their professions, 
and the support of their cause. But whatever the sincerity 
or insincerity of those who made this Declaration, it is 
not the final ground on which I would rest this grand 
principle of natural justice. I would appeal to the con- 
sciousness and candor of every man on the face of the 
earth, who has not lost the grand characteristics of man : 
"Would you not think it unjust for any man to enslave 
you, and for others, whatever their claims to possession 
might be, to hold your descendants, without any fault of 
theirs, in perpetual bondage 1 The whole human race, in 
all ages and all countries, would answer, Yes; and what 
is this universal consent, but a self-evident law of nature 
against involuntary slavery, where the natural right has 
not been forfeited by some great offence against the law 
of nature] If every one thinks it morally wrong for 
another to enslave him, he must, by an immediate and 
inevitable consequence, think it morally wrong for him to 



hold any other man in perpetual bondage ; and this is 
such a glaring truth, that if mankind had not been blinded 
by selfishness and moral corruption, they could never have 
overlooked it, nor, as we have reason to believe, would 
it have been necessary for the Prince of Peace and 
Righteousness to have re-enacted or re-published this 
eternal, immutable law, as he has done in those memora- 
ble words : " Whatsoever ye would that men should do 
unto you, do ye even so unto them." 

How vain, then, is the attempt to evade the demonstra- 
ble truth, that all involuntary slavery, imposed on those 
who have not forfeited their natural right to freedom, is a 
sin against the law of nature, and the God of nature, by 
asserting that slavery was warranted by the law of Moses, 
and was sanctioned by the authority of God himself! 
Without discussing the question, what was the nature and 
extent of that slavery or servitude, I would remark, that 
all the involuntary slavery, which was authorized by the 
law of Moses, without limitation of time, falls under the 
exception, which in the preceding argument has been kept 
in constant view. It was inflicted on those who had 
forfeited their natural rights by sin ; by disobedience to 
the Supreme Ruler of the world, which was the state of 
all the heathen nations at that day. They had renounced 
their allegiance to Him, and sunk into the grossest idolatry 
and corruption, and consequently deserved and required 
a severe discipline, to bring them back to duty. Further- 
more, it is to be observed and remembered, that the 
political institutions of the ancient Hebrews, established 
through the agency of Moses, were essentially diverse 
from those of all other nations, from the creation of man 
to the present time. It was a Theocracy. God was the 
political Head * as well as the moral Governor of that 

* 1 Sam., viii, 7. 


peculiar people. He was constantly present with them, 
and provided an oracle for the interpretation of his law, 
which could be consulted and safely followed on all 
emergencies ; and, if he saw fit to employ his political 
subjects in punishing or reclaiming his disobedient 
subjects of other nations, even by reducing them to 
slavery, it was no suspension nor limitation of that natural 
law, which forbids involuntary slavery. So far as I can 
see, it has no bearing on the subject. This, though a 
brief, is, I think, a competent reply to all the arguments 
which have been, or can be drawn from the Mosaic law, 
in defence of American slavery. 

Undeniable, however, as the foregoing conclusions may 
be, many attempt to evade the practical force of them by 
means of a commonplace argument, which seems, indeed, 
to be the best apology for our fathers in making the con- 
cessions they did to the spirit of slavery. The argument, 
if I rightly understand it, is substantially this : * a firm 
bond of union among the several States was indispensable 
to their safety and well-being. That union could not 
be effected without the concessions which were actually 
made ; and, as they were in fact made, we are bound in 
good faith to fulfil them. Now in my apprehension, there 
are two grand defects in this argument, which render it 
no better than two broken links of a chain, which must 
be too weak to sustain a conclusion of such infinite 
weight as many are disposed to hang upon them. In the 
first place, it is not self-evident, and, I think, not very 
easy to be proved, that a competent union might not have 
been formed without any such abandonment of the sacred 
and eternal principle avowed in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence; without any concession whatever to slavery, 
and especially that which forms the basis of the law 

* See the letter of Hon. S. A. Eliot. 


recently passed. South Carolina and Georgia would, in 
all probability, have refused for a time to join such a 
confederacy. North Carolina, too, might perhaps have 
taken the same ground with South Carolina and Georgia. 
I have not the documents, nor a distinct recollection of 
facts which would warrant any confident assertions in 
regard to this subject, but the unanimity with which the 
ordinance of 1787 was passed, and the notorious fact that 
the leading men of Virginia, and, I think, of Maryland 
too, were anti-slavery in their views and feelings, leave, it 
would seem, no reasonable doubt that they would have 
joined with the more northern States in a Constitution 
which made no concessions to slavery. Let it, however, be 
granted that the five Southern States would for a time have 
refused all participation in a general form of government, 
which did not guaranty to them the continuance of slavery, 
and other immunities connected with it, still there were 
nine other States which probably would, and certainly 
might have formed such a union ; and this, it ought to be 
remembered, though it seems to have been forgotten or 
overlooked by Mr. Eliot, was the precise number named 
in the Constitution, as competent to establish it as a per- 
manent law of those States by whom it should be rati- 
fied and accepted. May I not add, that, considering 
the strong anti-slavery feelings and convictions of the 
North, there was more reason to apprehend that the 
introduction of those concessions into the Constitution 
would procure its rejection at the North, than that the 
omission of them would have had the same effect at the 
South \ The fact is, that the adoption of the Constitution 
was strongly contested in several of the Northern States, 
and was for a considerable time doubtful, on the ground, 
I believe, of its pro-slavery tendencies. Had the nine, and 
still more the eleven Northern States joined in a common 
bond of union, what advantage would the other States 


have gained by refusing to come in ] Could they have 
pursued their fugitive slaves into any State and forced 
them back again into bondage? Could they, in conse- 
quence of holding a multitude of human beings in chains, 
have given to one man as much political influence as now 
belongs to fifty or a hundred freemen at the North ] It 
is evident they would have had no such immunities. And 
if those States had formed a union by themselves, what 
competition could they have maintained with the greater 
Republic on their borders, endangered and enfeebled as they 
would have been by the slavery they were endeavoring to 
maintain % The shipping would have been almost entirely 
at the North. One third of it, if my information and 
remembrance be correct, was owned by Massachusetts 
alone, including the District of Maine ; and where the 
shipping was, there were the seamen by whom it was to 
be manned, and a great proportion of the effective soldiers. 
There, too, were the elements of manufacture, and espe- 
cially that condition of laborers which is necessary to 
create such establishments, and render them efficient and 
profitable. Why, then, should those States have persisted 
in a refusal to unite in a form of government which re- 
quired no sacrifice of moral principle on the part of the 
North ] Who can reasonably suppose that they would 
have done it, after they found by their experience that 
they could not bring the North to their terms'? So 
groundless, I conceive, is the assumption, that, without the 
concessions we are considering, no union could have been 

The other defect in the argument we are canvassing, 
lies in the nature and limitation of that necessity which 
required a union of States, in order to relieve their present 
embarrassments and provide for their well-being in future. 
I freely acknowledge that the gloomy picture drawn by 
Mr. Eliot, of the condition and prospects of that time, is 


correct in every feature. The sufferings of the people 
were great and various, and the aspect of the future 
appalling. A union of States was undoubtedly a most 
desirable object, indispensable to a happy result of the 
Revolution. Still I contend that the necessity of the case 
was not that which knows or should acknowledge no law. 
There is a necessity infinitely higher and stronger than 
any, which can affect individual or national happiness in 
this transitory world, the moral necessity of obeying that 
Power, which is able either to prosper or defeat the 
designs and most strenuous efforts of man for the attain- 
ment of earthly good. The preservation of life is 
certainly one of the strongest and most imperious of 
physical necessities ; and yet it will not do for us to kill 
and eat a fellow-man, certainly not without his consent, 
in order to save ourselves from the agonizing death of 
starving ; nor should we be justified in throwing a fellow- 
creature out of a life-boat, for the purpose of securing 
to ourselves a safe passage to land. Supposing, therefore, 
what is not only not certain, but hardly probable, that no 
effectual union would have been formed without the con- 
cessions which were made to slavery, it appears to me very 
certain that our fathers could not be justified in giving 
their aid to hold those in perpetual bondage, who, as they 
acknowledged, had a self-evident right to freedom ; and if 
they could not bind themselves by such a compact, it is 
hardly necessary to say that they could not impose on 
their posterity any moral obligation to fulfil the compact. 

Thus I have endeavored to show that the principle of 
the Fugitive Slave law is irreconcilably opposed to the 
declared intention of the Constitution, so far as relates to 
the establishment of justice. It is unjust to the slave, 
and still more unjust to the conscientious citizen, who 
cannot comply with its requirements, without the sacrifice 


of those moral convictions and feelings, which are a 
thousand times more valuable to him than life itself. 

Another declared purpose of the Constitution is to 
" secure the blessings of freedom to ourselves and our 
posterity." That this purpose would be in a great 
measure frustrated by carrying into effect the Fugitive 
Slave law, or the principle on which it is founded, would 
follow as a necessary consequence from what has been 
said in the preceding pages. Exposure to the greatest 
injustice most certainly is not freedom. Those, indeed, 
who obey the calls and injunctions of that law may enjoy 
the liberty of going where they please, and doing what 
they please, spending their money according to the 
dictates of their own will, and many other things of the 
like kind. But do these things constitute that liberty, 
which should be most precious to immortal beings \ Can 
a man, while he is a man, surrender the right of acting 
out the strongest convictions of his mind, and the deepest 
feelings of a just and generous heart \ and will you still 
mock him by calling him a freeman, a citizen of the 
freest country in the world ] On me, who am only one, 
perhaps, of myriads and millions who are in the same 
predicament, is imposed the sad dilemma of either dis- 
obeying the law of the land, or renouncing my allegiance 
to the God of heaven, and all my hopes of salvation. If 
I do not disobey that universal and most intelligible com- 
mand of our Saviour, " Do unto others as ye would have 
them do unto you," I am liable to be stripped of the last 
cent of property which is to support my declining years ; 
and not only that, but to be confined in prison, which, 
beside all other hardships, may terminate my life; and, 
worse than all, if I open my door to my Saviour himself 
in the person of his declared representative, a fugitive 
slave, my wife and children are liable to be turned into 
the streets, and thenceforth to have " not where to lay their 


heads." If this be freedom, if this be a legitimate result 
of our " glorious Constitution," I can form no conception 
what is meant by tyranny or usurpation. 

The imposition I am endeavoring to expose would be 
sufficiently odious, if it fell on very few ; but in the 
course of ages, should this law be executed and con- 
tinued, it may be the doom not only of a large minority, 
but of a large majority of the citizens of this vaunted 
free country. Of this, indeed, we cannot entertain a 
doubt, unless it be grounded on the supposed insincerity 
of those, who profess to believe that slavery is a violation 
of natural right. From the known circumstances of the 
times and of the occasion, it may perhaps be doubted 
whether a majority of the free inhabitants of our country 
ever did give, either directly or indirectly, an intelligent 
consent to the principle of the Slave law. In the first 
place, if I rightly recollect, the Constitution was adopted 
by small majorities in the Conventions of several States ; 
and it is hardly to be presumed from our experience in 
such things that all the Delegates truly represented the 
anti-slavery convictions of their constituents. Secondly, 
to say nothing of women, who were to be no less subject 
than men to the prohibitions and penalties of law, there 
were many free men, and among them some who had 
spent their patrimonies and incurred debts for a collegiate 
and a professional education, who were excluded, for 
want of the pecuniary qualifications required in those 
days, in order to make them voters, from all part or lot 
in the primary assemblies, by which those Delegates were 
chosen ; and, thirdly, there were in those times very few 
public journals or newspapers, scarcely a half dozen in 
Massachusetts, and those few had little circulation. From 
my own remembrance, I think it doubtful whether one 
family in five of our most respectable yeomanry either 
took, or frequently saw any paper whatever. Hence 


there is reason to suppose that there were multitudes of 
primary voters, who had never cast their eyes upon the 
Constitution, though they might perhaps have once heard 
it read ; and considering that the word slave is carefully 
excluded, and the principle is somewhat obscured by 
an ambiguous phraseology, it would not be wonderful, 
if among the many particulars, which would engage 
attention, common minds should have overlooked the 
obnoxious principle, from which, if it had been seen, their 
minds and hearts would have instantly revolted. If, then, 
as we have reason to believe, a large minority, if not a 
majority of our citizens were always opposed to the prin- 
ciple of the Slave law, is it not a hard case that they and 
their posterity should be subjected to the alternative of 
either disobeying the law of God, which they believe to 
be clearly and indelibly written on their hearts, or of 
being thrown into prison among criminals and felons, and 
as the case may be, deprived of all their means of sup- 
porting themselves and their families'? Beside, it is a 
momentous consideration that, from various influences, 
the tide of sentiment and feeling throughout the civilized 
world is rolling on, and that with irresistible power 
toward the consummation of justice and humanity. In 
this beneficent tendency, Christianity takes the lead, and 
as God is true, is destined to triumph over that selfish- 
ness in the human heart, which, as we have reason to 
believe, is the chief corner-stone, though not the only 
foundation of all slavery, whether political, or personal. 
It was one of the express designs for which Christ came 
into the world, " to proclaim liberty to the captives, and 
the opening of the prison to them that are bound." 
Is. lxi, 1. He solemnly declared, "I came not to destroy 
the law or the prophets, but to fulfil." Matt, v, 17. 
Yes ; he came to establish and carry into effect the moral 
principle, inculcated Is. lviii, 6 : "Is not this the fast 


that I have chosen % to loose the bands of wickedness, to 
undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, 
and that ye break every yoke \ " He came to establish, 
among other principles of the Mosaic code, that humane 
law, recorded Deut. xxiii, 15, 16 : " Thou shalt not 
deliver unto his master the servant, which is escaped from 
his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even 
among you, in that place which he shall choose, in one of 
thy gates, where it liketh him best. Thou shalt not 
oppress him." Is it possible that the professed disciples 
of Him, who sacrificed everything for the cause of 
humanity, should continue for years and ages to come so 
far as they now are below the standard, which was given 
to a semi-barbarous people more than three thousand 
years ago 1 And if the benignant spirit of Christianity, 
and the favorable influences of the nineteenth century 
should create a decided majority against the principle of 
the Slave law, what is to be done ! Is the minority to 
rule the majority with a rod of iron, which has scarcely a 
parallel under the most despotic governments of the 
present century 1 It may be said that in such a case, the 
Constitution might be amended. Perhaps so ; but it is 
to be remembered that the Constitution cannot be altered 
without the concurrence of three fourths of the States ; 
three fourths of the States, which may be seven eighths of 
the free population ; and is the one fourth or the one 
eighth to hold in moral bondage the three fourths or 
seven eighths of what are too ironically called the free 
citizens of the Union'? No, it may be said ; the majority 
may repeal the law, and leave that part of the Constitu- 
tion a dead letter. True, they might and probably would 
do this ; but what would then become of the principle, 
which is now so confidently asserted, that this part of 
the compact must be executed to the letter, though it 


require all the armaments of the nation to carry it into 
effect 1 

Thus, I think, I have clearly shown that the principle 
of the Slave law is utterly irreconcilable with that 
declared purpose of the Constitution, " to secure the 
blessings of freedom to ourselves and our posterity ; " 
and should the principle be permanently established, it 
would render the Constitution not only a failure, but in- 
comparably worse than a mere failure. 

If in the foregoing discussions it has been clearly 
shown, as I think it has been, that the principle of the 
Fugitive Slave law is at war with two of the cardinal 
objects of the Constitution, the establishment of justice, 
and the security of freedom to the citizens of the Union, 
I need not multiply words to prove that the principle is 
adverse to all the other purposes for which it was estab- 
lished. " To form a more perfect union ! " What perfect 
union can there be between the love and the hatred of 
involuntary slavery 1 between two parties, one of which 
would compel the other to give its aid in perpetuating 
such an institution 1 A lamb may indeed be chained to 
a tiger, but it would not be a very perfect union. A 
perfect union, it is self-evident, must be founded in 
mutual confidence, affection, justice and generosity. 
' " To insure domestic tranquillity ! " In such a state of 
things as must inevitably result from enforcing the law in 
question, while it conflicts with the moral sentiments and 
feelings of a large minority, not to say a majority of the 
people, what tranquillity can there be ? Those who think 
themselves cruelly oppressed will remonstrate, and that 
with a zeal and perseverance proportioned to their real or 
imaginary wrongs. To prevent the agitation of those 
subjects, which are the occasion of their grievances, is 
utterly impossible. As well might Xerxes think to 


scourge the waves of the Hellespont into a calm submis- 
sion to his will. 

" To provide for the common defence ! " What defence 
can there be, when the country is divided into two great 
parties in a state of alienation from each other 1 They 
may indeed agree to build navies, raise armies, and pro- 
vide arsenals and munitions of war. But these very 
things may be used by the maddened parties for the pur- 
pose of mutual destruction, or by the stronger party for 
the annihilation of the weaker. Beside, I would ask, 
What defence can there be against the Almighty, whose 
eternal and self-evident law is violated in the institution 
of slavery? If not one of the Divine attributes can 
take the side of involuntary slavery, how much reason 
have we, in the words of Jefferson, to " tremble for our 
country ! " 

" To promote the general welfare ! " Yes, however 
unjust or oppressive to those who are weaker than our- 
selves, we may indeed accumulate wealth beyond all 
definable limits. We may extend the boundaries of our 
empire, by the slaughter of innocent women and children, 
and we may cultivate the arts of war, till this malign 
glory shall eclipse everything else of the kind, whether 
ancient or modern ; but are any of these things, or all of 
them together, true welfare'? Better, a thousand times 
better, are national justice and generosity, a moderate 
degree of wealth, a small extent of country, and no war- 
like fame at all. 

If, then, the principle against which I have been con- 
tending is in itself, or in its inevitable consequences, 
irreconcilably opposed to all the declared objects for 
which the Constitution was established, nothing more is 
necessary to show that it is at least prudent to abandon 
it, lest it sap the foundations of the fabric. 

In what I have written, it has been no part of my 


design to add more oxygen, or more hydrogen, or more 
carbon to those flaming passions, which for years have 
often bnrned too intensely for the moral or the political 
safety of onr country; but to bring into a clear view 
some great principles and facts, which, as appears to me, 
have been overlooked or misapprehended by many of our 
leading men. In retrospect of the argument, I would, in 
that spirit of courtesy, candor, and moderation, which 
never weakens a good argument, put a few simple ques- 
tions to every true-hearted man at the South, not doubting 
that many such there are, and hoping for candid and 
considerate replies. 

Was it quite right for the conservative slaveholders in 
'88 to demand such concessions from those who had been 
among the foremost in their generous sacrifices for inde- 
pendence, as the indispensable conditions of forming that 
union which w T as to save the country, and was no less 
important to the South, than it was to the North ] and is 
it magnanimous for the descendants of those slaveholders 
at the present day to insist on a rigorous fulfilment of 
that concession, which involves the sacrifice of a high 
moral principle, and which was extorted from the high, 
but mistaken patriotism of those who regarded it as a 
necessary means of saving their beloved country 1 

Should the foregoing questions be answered in the 
affirmative, there is another point connected with them, 
on which I would urge several queries on the just and 
generous spirits of the South. Ought you not to be very 
careful yourselves to come up to the requirements of the 
Constitution in relation to your fellow citizens at the 
North, before you invoke all the energies of Government 
to enforce your claims on them ? To aid you in your self- 
examination, I would ask, Does not the Constitution 
contain a provision like the following'? — Citizens of one 
State shall be entitled to all the privileges of Citizens in 


any other State. Are there not laws in South Carolina 
and Louisiana, which not only withhold these privileges 
from citizens of a certain color from the North, but when 
they come as seamen, either voluntarily, or by stress of 
weather into the harbors of those States, throw them into 
prison, deprive them of their wages as long as the vessel 
remains in port, charge them with all the expenses of the 
legal process and of support in prison ; and then, if these 
charges are not paid, and they removed from the State, 
sell them into perpetual slavery] and have not public 
agents, sent by the authority of a sovereign State, and 
therefore invested by the laws of civilization with a 
sacred inviolability while engaged in the discharge of 
their mission, been threatened with Lynch law if they did 
not immediately abandon the peaceable object, for which 
they came, and leave the State, although their mission 
had nothing else in view, than to make those inquiries, 
which were necessary to bring the subject of the contro- 
versy before the tribunal, which had been provided by 
the Constitution for the settlement of all such disputes % 
Should it be said that only two States are responsible for 
such laws, I would ask, Have not the Representatives 
from most, if not all of the slave States taken the side of 
South Carolina and Louisiana when the subject has been 
brought before Congress, and thus made themselves ac- 
countable for the infringement of the national compact 1 
The plea of necessity and self-defence is urged for the 
justification of these laws ; but might not this object 
have been as well secured, without all these rigorous pro- 
visions] and would it not have been more just and 
generous for those States, while evidently violating the 
Constitution, to have paid some part, if not the whole 
price of the security, which they sought and obtained ] 

Again, I would request the candid citizens of the South 
to consider whether they have fulfilled their part of that 


compromise, which affects in various ways and to an inde- 
finable extent the interests of the North, contained in the 
article which determines the apportionment of Representa- 
tion. While, on the one side, the free States consider 
that in this apportionment three fifths of the slaves shall 
be counted as so many free inhabitants, it is stipulated on 
the other side that property in slaves shall be subject to 
taxation. Has there ever been a direct tax, in which 
slaves were included, for the last fifty-two years'? and was 
not the direct tax of '98 a subject of great clamor at the 
South, and among the principal causes which prevented 
the re-election of the elder Adams, and proved the de- 
struction of his party 1 From that time to this, no party, 
it seems, has dared and chosen to lay a direct tax, including 
all kinds of property ; and what has become of the South- 
ern side of this original compromise % Has not the con- 
dition on one part been wholly unperformed for a half 
century, while the other party has been held with all the 
tenacity which would have been just, had the condition 
been fulfilled 1 When the State of Massachusetts about 
seven years ago applied to Congress for its aid in pro- 
curing such an amendment of this article, as would 
relieve the North from this one-sided bond, did she not 
subject herself to a storm of abuse, from which her 
Senators in Congress did not think it prudent to defend 
her] It may indeed be said that the South pay their 
share of those duties, which, for the purpose of revenue, 
come into the place of direct taxes ; and so do the citizens 
of the North pay in proportion to the articles consumed an 
equal amount of those duties. How, then, does the pay- 
ment of duties at the South fulfil the condition, on which 
alone the North can by any principle of law or equity 
be any longer held responsible for their part of this 
compromise] Further, I would ask, Is it not a great 
mistake to suppose that either this compromise, or that 


which relates to the restoration of fugitive slaves was 
intended for perpetuity 1 By the provision of the Consti- 
tution itself, is it not manifest that these articles are as 
liable to amendment, as any other, whenever three fourths 
of the States shall concur in the change 1 The slave- 
holders in the South have not been content with holding 
the free States to the one-sided compact we are consider- 
ing ; but, to confirm and perpetuate in their own hands 
the dominant power, which by means of an unequal 
representation, and the consequent possession of executive 
patronage they have almost invariably held, they have 
for more than thirty years been adding by purchase, con- 
quest, or other means, territory after territory almost with- 
out bounds, and introducing, or providing for the intro- 
duction of whole families of slave States, and carrying 
this false balance of power thousands of miles beyond the 
original limits of the copartnership. Is it wonderful that 
the advocates of freedom should wish, by applying the 
principle of the proviso, to secure to their posterity some 
chance of rising to an equality in power and influence 1 

There is still another point, on which I must be allowed 
to suggest a few queries to those who have candor enough 
to consider and reply to them. Have the South dealt 
fairly with the North, in resorting, as they seem to have 
done, to different modes of interpreting and applying the 
Constitution, according as the measures proposed favored 
or contravened their sectional interest ] Was not Texas, 
though a foreign State, invited and admitted into the 
Union by acts of Congress, without any express warrant 
from the Constitution, or any that was clearly implied ? 
And have not the Southern States uniformly insisted that, 
when any act was proposed which seemed to be unfavor- 
able to their interest, the advocates of such a measure 
should show that the power of passing it was expressly 
given by the Constitution % Nay, further, have they not 


been driven almost to madness, by every serious proposal 
to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, though the 
Constitution says in the most explicit terms, Congress shall 
have exclusive jurisdiction there in all matters whatever ] 
In the face of these most intelligible words, have not 
Southern Representatives again and again denied the 
power of Congress to legislate on the subject of slavery 
in the District, and declared that if they did abolish it, 
they would secede from the Union % 

On the subject of opposition to the laws of Congress I 
must be allowed to draw a comparison between the 
fortunes of the North and those of the South. Is it 
forgotten, that when the venerable J. Q. Adams, some 
years ago, presented a petition for a peaceable dissolution 
of the Union, while he declared himself opposed to the 
petition, he was for that simple and official act arraigned 
before the bar of the House, charged with a high misde- 
meanor, and put on trial for it % At the same time, and 
from that time to this, members of Congress, in the very 
chambers of their session, might threaten war upon their 
country, without even the mildest rebuke from their 
colleagues, or their partisans at the North. How consis- 
tent, how impartial is all this ! 

The Hartford Convention affords a contrast yet stronger. 
For about six years, the commercial interests of the North 
had been almost annihilated by a series of measures, which, 
in the commercial States, were generally regarded as 
unnecessary, and consequently unjust and oppressive to 
them ; and, in the prosecution of the war, a conscription, 
like that of Napoleon, was recommended by the Secretary 
of "War, which should force our young men from the 
bosoms of their families into the field of slaughter, and 
that for no sufficient object. In this state of things, the 
Convention of delegates met in Hartford, to consult on 
the best means of securing their most precious rights. 


They continued together several days, without a whisper 
of violent resistance to the Government, and then separat- 
ed, with a report most exemplary for its moderation, in 
which they recommended to their constituents to use no 
means whatever for the security of their rights, which 
were not strictly within the limits of the Constitution: 
and this Convention, thus beginning and thus ending, was 
an unpardonable sin, for which those who were concerned 
in it were doomed to political death and disgrace. Need I 
remind the reader how it has been at the South from that 
time to the present 1 how they have agitated, and even 
declared war against the Union in State Legislatures, and 
Conventions, and even among the members of Congress 1 
what was the fury of Georgia in regard to the Cherokees \ 
and the hostility of South Carolina'? how the latter 
State provided her arms and ammunition, and mustered 
and trained her legions, for the express purpose of resist- 
ing the execution of the laws % By the resolute course of 
President Jackson, the insurgent State was indeed brought 
to lay down her arms ; but that seemed to be a complete 
atonement for her political sin, and presently we see the 
majority of the other States, through their Representatives 
in Congress, bowing before her, and, by conceding a great 
part of her demands, virtually telling her that her offence 
was a venial one ; and at the same time giving a virtual 
promise that any other State at the South might, with the 
same impunity, commit the like offence. Has not this 
implied promise been punctually fulfilled during the 
late session of Congress, in the purchase of peace from 
Texas, at the sacrifice of philanthropic principle, the 
promise of protection to one of our Territories, and ten 
millions of money'? Little, comparatively, do I care for 
the money; yet I should like to know how long it will be 
before the peace, which we have thus been compelled to 
buy, must be bought again, and that, perhaps, at a still 


greater price; how soon and how often we must redeem 
our glorious Constitution from destruction, by the sacrifice 
of principles and feelings, which are dearer to us than our 
heart's blood. 

There is only one other point to which I would at 
present call attention. In a debate of the last session of 
Congress, on some question of compromise, I think, some 
remark like this came from an Honorable Senator on the 
other side of Dixon's line ; that in the compromise pro- 
posed, the South would give up pecuniary interests, while 
the North would sacrifice nothing but sentiment. If by 
sentiment the gentleman did not mean some principle of 
morality or true honor, I would ask whether it was not 
charging the North with insincerity in the professions 
they are constantly making ; and, if he did use the word 
sentiment in that high and sacred sense, I would ask 
whether honor and honesty are indeed of less value than 
money. We solemnly protest that we are compelled, not 
only by conscience, but by a dread of moral disgrace, to 
withhold our hands from everything which tends to the 
perpetuity of slavery. Boasting, as we do, of our free 
institutions, and setting ourselves up, as we do, as an 
example for all the rest of the world to follow, we blush 
to meet the gaze of the world, while we allow ourselves to 
be made passive instruments in riveting anew the chains 
of those, who have had the manly resolution to break and 
escape from them ; and we are deeply mortified, while in 
imagination we see our posterity, in more enlightened, 
more just, and more generous ages, reading, as they 
certainly will read, the history of the present time, and 
weeping over its mental and moral infirmities. High- 
minded men of the South and the North, is there any 
thing in this sentiment, which is hard to be understood 1 
Is there nothing in your own souls, which beats in 
harmony with ill "I pause for a reply." 


What is to be the end of these things, or how the ex- 
isting evils are to be removed, is known to that Being 
alone, with whom there is no distinction between the 
present and the future. One thing, however, is certain. 
Government is too strong to be forcibly resisted, even if 
Christian principle would allow such resistance ; and if 
the Fugitive Slave law should be continued, and be stren- 
uously enforced, another thing is equally certain ; viz. : 
That those who believe in the unchangeable supremacy of 
the Divine law, and the consequent injustice of every aid 
that is given to slavery, must be prepared to endure per- 
secution. I do not believe that Christianity, in its true 
spirit and generous designs, is wholly extinct in our land ; 
nor can I resign the cheering hope, that this sacred leaven, 
though in a great measure hidden, will diffuse its in- 
fluence, and leaven the mass more and more, in proportion 
as it is warmed by the excitements which always attend 
persecution. It was persecution that spread and estab- 
lished Christianity in the primitive ages, and this mighty 
agent may be required to give life to those religious 
professions, which often seem to be nothing more than 
professions and empty forms ; to call forth the regenerat- 
ing power of the Gospel, and abolish everything in our 
Constitution and Laws which is opposed to its philan- 
thropic spirit. Let the law in question be rigorously en- 
forced, and the sufferers have everything to hope for, 
and persecutors everything to fear. Suffering innocence, 
bleeding under oppression and cruelty, acts on the heart 
of man, so long as he has any heart, with a power sur- 
passing everything else upon earth ; and where the heart 
is gained, the understanding is apt to follow, and all the 
noblest energies of the soul. Let, then, the advocates of 
that law exert all their power and influence to crush 
opposition to it. They will only hasten the downfall of 
their political system. They will sooner or later produce 


a moral earthquake, which will cause our whole country, 
from ocean to ocean, to rock like a cradle, or rather, like a 
ship on a tempestuous sea. Such moral earthquakes, and 
their kindred storms, are, I think, means appointed by the 
Almighty and Allwise for demolishing the strongholds of 
inveterate abuses ; and the result of the present conflict, 
unequal as it may appear — the catastrophe of this na- 
tional drama, on which more than one world, one age, and 
one order of beings is now looking, may give a new 
demonstration of the facts, which are asserted by the 
apostle Paul : — " God hath chosen the foolish things of 
the world to confound the wise ; and God hath chosen the 
weak things of the world to confound the things which 
are mighty ; and base things of the world, and things 
which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things 
which are not, to bring to naught things that are." 

Deerfield, Nov. 28th, 1850.